When the National Council of Jewish Women, Louisville Section, wanted to start a family recovery court in Jefferson County, they learned that they would have to raise the money themselves to do it.
So they did.
NCJW-Louisville raised $561,000 to cover three years of operation for the new Jefferson County Family Recovery Court, which gives substance abusers the chance to enter treatment, straighten out their lives and keep custody of their kids.
That was two years ago. Now that the court has been in session for nearly a year, NCJW-Louisville wants to take the concept to three other counties in Kentucky: Kenton, Clay and Daviess.
Money remains a problem, though, so one way they are raising it is through a raffle.
NCJW-Louisville is giving away two tickets to a taping of Saturday Night Live, a two-night stay at the New York Hilton in Midtown, a tour of the NBC studios at Rockefeller Center and airfare from anywhere in the United States.
So far, the raffle has raised $22,000 ahead of the Jan. 6 drawing at Nearly New Shop. If all the tickets are sold, it will net $100,000.
The main objective of the project is to convince the legislature to budget $1,122,000 for the new courts, minus whatever NCJW-Louisville raises through its fundraising effort.
“These courts do not exist today in Kentucky – anywhere, except in Jefferson County,” said Jane Emke, past president of NCJW-Louisville. “We are working with volunteers in Clay, Kenton and Daviess counties to make three new recovery courts a reality in the 2020 state budget.”
The fundraising effort, which Emke co-chairs with retired Courier-Journal Editor David Hawpe, will show lawmakers “that people are behind it,” she said.
Substance abuse, and the toll it takes on families, is a major problem in Kentucky.
Citing studies by Child Protective Services and Kentucky Youth Advocates, a 2014 report by NCJW-Louisville stated that 16,533 children were abused or neglected statewide in 2012 with household substance abuse accounting for 64.4 percent of them.
In Jefferson County, between 2010 and 2012, 7,500 cases of child abuse or neglect were documented, and 2,946 children were placed in out-of-home care as a result. More than 70 percent of those cases involved substance abuse.
Without the family recovery court, many parents battling substance abuse would lose permanent custody of their children, Emke said.
Family Recovery Court addresses those problems. Working within the family court system, two judges meet weekly with parents who have lost custody of their children due to abuse or neglect, monitoring their progress in recovery programs.
Centerstone is the organization that provides services to the parents. Cindy Kamer, its clinical supervisor and court liaison, said her clients are “receptive” to the program.
“Somebody’s talking to them daily,” she said. “The support has been really just astronomical for them.”
Centerstone helps participants get clean, develop coping and parenting skills and see how their own trauma has affected their substance abuse and parenting.
“It’s not a punitive program,” Kamer said. “We’ve had several participants who have relapsed throughout this process. What I have found most unique about it is that they have continued to come and tell us that they’ve relapsed and to request help versus trying to lie…. They feel supported and they know that we recognize that relapse is part of this process.”
There are 25 participants in in the recovery court, Kamer said, with the first four “graduates” set to finish the program in December.
Several lawmakers have visited the court, as well as representatives from other counties, observing its process, Emke said.
The hope is that state funding will eventually be provided to take over the court and make it more widespread throughout the state.
“As we continue dealing with the opiate epidemic and other forms of addiction, we must provide more funding for Family Recovery Courts,” state Sen. Morgan McGarvey said in a prepared statement. “This will strengthen rehabilitation efforts, decrease incarceration and give individuals more time to focus on family by breaking the cycle of addiction.”
So far, there are 25 participants are in the Family Recovery Court, Kamer said. The first four “graduates” are set to finish the program in December.
Want to help?
Tickets for the Saturday Night Live raffle are $100 apiece. For more information, or to buy a raffle ticket, visit ncjwlou.org/events/raffle/.